The Qatar Government has completed its 40 million euro takeover of French Ligue 1 football club, Paris St Germain. The deal, first announced in May, has been described as "cementing the gas exporter's links with the sport and [helping] prepare it for hosting the 2022 [FIFA] World Cup, whose award remains mired in controversy."
The acquisition was "partly to provide knowledge transfer ahead of the 2022 tournament," a source close to the deal told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They're buying expertise as much as anything," said the source. "And very often these are property plays. You'll find the premises around it are worth more than the actual club."
The West Asian oil emirate's Qatar Sports Investments, established in 2005 by the son of the Emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, bought the controlling 70% stake in PSG from Colony Capital Europe, headed by Sebastien Bazin, which retains 28% of the equity (along with Butler Capital Partners holding 2%).
While the sale price was not disclosed, Le Parisien newspaper reported it to be €40 million, including payment of debt to creditors, with a net of approximately €10 million to the vendor.
The acquisition follows the recent purchase of Spanish football club Malaga CF by Qatari royal family member Sheik Abdullah Al Thani for €36 million ($51.5 million) and the Qatar Foundation's record-breaking €150 million ($200 million) shirt sponsorship deal with European champions FC Barcelona (which shifted the UNICEF logo to the back of their shirt).
PSG finished fourth in Ligue 1 this season but, as the only major football club in the French capital, is regarded as a "sleeping giant" in European football. "It's a big club with a history and super fans," QSI's President, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, told Le Parisien newspaper. "Acquiring PSG is a dream, we are very proud. All together, us, the management, the fans, the players, we will do everything so that the dream becomes reality."
Al-Khelaifi is also president of the Qatari television channel Al Jazeera, which last last week bid successfully to broadcast Ligue 1 matches in France, having previously agreed a deal to broadcast games internationally.
"It's an opportunity in political terms. It's an opportunity in business terms. It's an opportunity in reputation terms," James Dorsey, a senior research fellow of the National University of Singapore's Middle East Institute and author of the blog, The Turbulent Word of Middle East Soccer, told Michael Casey of AP.
"What it produces for them is far greater visibility and access to an audience they wouldn't access normally, which feeds into their reputation and an ability to punch above their weight," he said.